Motherwell 2-3 Hibs: Grounds for optimism for Motherwell despite loss in pulsating league opener
Dutch striker Kevin van Veen – the best player on the pitch – lit up proceedings and put the Steelmen in front after just 12 minutes when he nodded in Jake Carroll’s fantastic delivery from the left.
But Hibs didn’t finish third last season for nothing and this side is blessed with plenty of pace and skill of its own.
Kyle Magennis instinctively shot them level within five minutes, before the Steelmen regained the lead when Carroll’s wicked delivery from a setpiece on the right flank was nodded home at the back post by Bevis Mugabi.
It’s been said many times that football is a funny game – Hibs hadn’t lost a headed goal in the entirety of the previous Premiership campaign but they’d now conceded two such strikes within half an hour of the new league season starting!
Hibs then seemed to be denied a stonewall penalty for Carroll’s barge into Magennis.
With ’Well still leading 2-1 at half-time and with new signings van Veen, Callum Slattery and Kaiyne Woolery to the fore, hopes were high that 2021-22 league duties could be underway with three points for the North Lanarkshire men.
But, for all ’Well’s incisive, direct and slick play in possession, there was always a fear that Hibs – for whom Martin Boyle was outstanding – seemed to be finding too much space when in possession and were more than capable of fighting back.
And so it was to prove.
Substitute Christian Doidge levelled within a matter of minutes of coming on before the Steelmen wasted a great chance to go ahead for a third time when Woolery shot weakly at Macey after a brilliant through pass by van Veen.
There was further disappointment when new Motherwell skipper Stephen O'Donnell was penalised for handling inside the box and Martin Boyle swept home the winning penalty as Hibernian got off to a flying start.
’Well will play the second match of their league campaign at St Johnstone this Sunday, kick-off 3pm.